PSAT Writing : Identifying Punctuation Errors: Commas for Introductory or Interrupting Phrases

Study concepts, example questions & explanations for PSAT Writing

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Example Questions

Example Question #33 : Identifying Punctuation Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Finally the teacher returned our papers, and despite our initial worries, we discovered all of us had received passing marks. No error

Possible Answers:

No error

worries, we

Despite

all of us

Finally the teacher

Correct answer:

Finally the teacher

Explanation:

Here, "finally" is considered an introductory word, so it must be followed by a comma: "Finally, the teacher . . ."

Example Question #34 : Identifying Punctuation Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

If you decide to go to the beach make sure to wear sunscreen to protect your skin! No error

Possible Answers:

to protect your skin!

to the beach make sure

to wear

No error

If you decide

Correct answer:

to the beach make sure

Explanation:

The phrase "If you decide to go to the beach" is an introductory phrase, and all introductory phrases need to be set apart from the rest of the sentence by a comma. So, after being corrected, the sentence would read, "If you decide to go to the beach, make sure to wear sunscreen to protect your skin!"

Example Question #35 : Identifying Punctuation Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Daisy and her sister, Margot, shared a large family but a special relationship; even among their numerous older and younger sisters, Margot, and Daisy had a special bond. No error

Possible Answers:

among

sisters, Margot, and

No error

relationship; even

her sister, Margot,

Correct answer:

sisters, Margot, and

Explanation:

Because the sentence states that Margot is not Daisy's only sister, the commas and which frame her name in "their numerous older and younger sisters, Margot, and Daisy" are incorrect. The comma that sets apart Margot's name at the beginning of the sentence ("Daisy and her sister, Margot, shared") is correctly used, because here, Margot is being specified as Daisy's sister in an appositive phrase that renames "her sister" as "Margot."

Example Question #36 : Identifying Punctuation Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Despite disinterest in school elections, the majority of the students voted Shindra the treasurer, president of the student governmentNo error

Possible Answers:

Shindra the treasurer,

Despite disinterest

elections, the

No error

student government

Correct answer:

Shindra the treasurer,

Explanation:

"The treasurer" here is an appositive: it renames or restates Shindra in different words, and it should be surrounded with commas. The correct sentence should be: "the students voted Shindra, the treasurer, president . . ."

Example Question #37 : Identifying Punctuation Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Istanbul, despite being an old city has recently been the site of major commercial developments hoping to bring international business to the country. No error

Possible Answers:

despite being an old city

Instanbul, despite

developments hoping

to bring international business

No error

Correct answer:

despite being an old city

Explanation:

Here "despite being an old city" needs to be separated by the main clause by two commas, not just one.

Example Question #38 : Identifying Punctuation Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

At the insistence of the manager, the entire team dropped the project immediately; the project leader however, continued her work without interruptionNo error

Possible Answers:

immediately; the

At the insistence

manager, the entire team

without interruption

leader however,

Correct answer:

leader however,

Explanation:

The word "however" here is considered a non-essential phrase: it can be removed, leaving a complete sentence. So it must be surrounded with commas: "The project leader, however, continued . . ."

Example Question #1111 : Identifying Sentence Errors

Select the underlined word or phrase that needs to be changed to make the sentence correct. Some sentences contain no error at all.

Perdita the lost princess, was found and raised by a shepherd. No error

Possible Answers:

by a shepherd.

was

Perdita the lost princess,

found and raised

No error

Correct answer:

Perdita the lost princess,

Explanation:

Commas should be used to set off the phrase "the lost princess," as it is in apposition to (gives a description of) the subject Perdita, but the sentence still makes sense without it. So, "Perdita the lost princess," contains the sentence's error, and the sentence should read, "Perdita, the lost princess, was found and raised by a shepherd."

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